The Use Of Ezekiel 37 In Ephesians 2 -- By: Robert H. Suh

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 50:4 (Dec 2007)
Article: The Use Of Ezekiel 37 In Ephesians 2
Author: Robert H. Suh

The Use Of Ezekiel 37 In Ephesians 2

Robert H. Suh

Robert Suh is associate pastor of Georgia New Seoul Baptist Church, 1664 Old Peachtree Rd., Suwanee, GA 30024.

I. Introduction

Over the past several decades, scholars have endeavored much to identify the background to Ephesians 2. The issue mostly revolves around Eph 2:14–18 with four primary suggestions: Gnostic mythology, a hymnic-liturgical background, the relationship to Colossians, and OT tradition.1 Today, it is widely agreed among scholars that the author of Ephesians has brought together “traditional materials of various origins in order to express his theological concerns.”2 Admittedly, however, the major underlying traditional source for Ephesians 2 has often been considered to stem from non-canonical literature. The sweeping influence of the Gnostic hypothesis that has dominated the study of Ephesians’s background and the seeming lack of clear OT quotations in Ephesians 1–3 may probably have been the major

factors that determined such a direction. Consequently, the study of the use of OT material in Ephesians 2 has received relatively less attention from NT scholars. I suggest, however, that a careful study of Ephesians 2 appears to point to the possibility of Paul’s use of the OT in Ephesians 2. In particular, Paul may have constructed his argument based on Ezekiel 37 in that he not only borrowed the material that is found in Ezekiel 37 but that he also applied it to the new community of Christ.

The similarities between Ezekiel 37 and Ephesians 2 have been only rarely noted by NT scholarship. An exception, however, is Ralph P. Martin. He recognized the possible connection between Ezek 37:15–23 and Eph 2:15–22 in his monograph titled Reconciliation. Note his comment on the issue:

But with a mind such as belonged to the author and conceding the subtle ways he appeals throughout the letter to the Old Testament (e.g. 4:8–9<...

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